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Anthropomorphizing Little Muffy
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Anthropomorphizing Little Muffy: (1) A February St. Petersburg Times report found several local people who regularly cook gourmet meals for their dogs and who revealed their dogs' (or maybe just "their") favorite recipes. "Veggie Cookies for Dogs," for example, requires whole-wheat flour, dried basil, dried cilantro, dried oregano, chopped carrot, green beans, tomato paste, canola oil and garlic. Asked one chef: Why feed "man's best friend" what you wouldn't eat yourself? (2) A day spa for dogs ("Wag Style") in Tokyo offers sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, supposedly easing doggy arthritis, healing wounds and halting aging. (Some racehorse owners are certain that the chambers help with equine muscle and joint problems, but an academic researcher told a writer that evidence of benefit is "anecdotal.")

Compelling Explanations

• At first, Rev. Fred Armfield's arrest for patronizing a prostitute in Greenwood, S.C., in January looked uncontroversial, with Armfield allegedly confessing that he had bargained Melinda "Truck Stop" Robinson down from $10 to $5 for oral sex. Several days later, however, Armfield formally disputed the arrest, calling himself a "descendant of the original Moro-Pithecus Disoch, Kenyapithecus and Afro Pithecus," a "living flesh and blood being with sovereign status," and someone who, based on his character and community standing, should not be prosecuted. Also, he claimed that any payment to "Truck Stop" with Federal Reserve Notes did not legally constitute a purchase since such notes are not lawful money.

• Lame: (1) Glenn Armstrong, 47, had a defense ready when police accused him of taking restroom photographs of boys in Brisbane, Australia, in January. He said he was having an ongoing debate with his wife and was gathering proof that most boys are not circumcised. (2) Sheriff's deputies in Austin, Texas, arrested Anthony Gigliotti, 17, after complaints that the teen was annoying women by following them around in public and snapping photographs of their clothed body parts. Gigliotti told one deputy that he needed the photos because the sex education at his Lake Travis High School was inadequate.

• Fredrick Federley, a member of the Swedish Parliament, said he has always campaigned as someone who does not take gifts from those he is responsible for regulating, but he was called out by the newspaper Aftonbladet in February for having accepted a free travel holiday from an airline. Federley denied that "he" accepted the trip. He reminded reporters that he is a notorious, flamboyant cross-dresser, and thus that it was his alter-ego "Ursula" who received the free holiday.


In February, the trade group Mortgage Bankers Association announced the sale of its Washington, D.C., headquarters for $41 million. The association had purchased the building in 2007, at the peak of the real estate bubble, for $79 million.

Our Litigious Society

• Craig Show, 49, filed a lawsuit in January against the Idaho State Police and the Bonner County Sheriff's Office, demanding compensation following his DUI arrest in August. Show said the cops had seized a "medicine bag" on his motorcycle and, in opening it for inspection, permitted the "mystical powers" inside to escape. The bag was blessed by a "medicine woman" in 1995 and, Show said, had been unopened since then.

• Sabrina Medina filed a lawsuit against the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort in Hawaii in January, claiming that an employee had caused her husband's death. The late Humberto Murillo had swiped two 12-packs of beer from a store at the resort, but the manager pursued and confronted him. Murillo started punching, and bystanders came to the manager's aid, restrained Murillo and held him down. Murillo, who was bipolar and had marijuana in his system, passed out and asphyxiated.

• Clumsy: (1) Teacher Karen Hollander filed a lawsuit in November against the New York City Department of Education after taking a fall on "slippery foreign substances," including condoms, on the floor at the High School of Art & Design. Since schools distribute condoms on campus, she said, the department is responsible when students open them and discard them during the lunch period, littering the floor. (2) Anthony Avery, 72, a retired insurance underwriter, filed a lawsuit in December against the exclusive Rye Golf Club in East Sussex County, England, for lingering injuries caused when he slipped on the wet floor of the club's shower room. The floor, he said, was "too" slippery.

Fine Points of the Law

• Human Rights Law: Iraqi immigrant Laith Alani murdered two doctors in a British hospital in 1990 and has been confined to mental facilities ever since, taking clozapine to control his schizophrenia. Since Alani is not a citizen, the government has sought deportation, but in January the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled that that would violate Alani's "human rights." Only the British hospitals, reasoned the judges, can guarantee that Alani will receive uninterrupted clozapine, without which he would become dangerous to himself and to others (that is, fellow Iraqis, after repatriation).

• Orthodox Jewish Law: Israel Elias and his then-wife Susan Zirkin were divorced under British law in 1962, but Zirkin has been unable to remarry since then because Orthodox Jewish law does not recognize divorce unless the husband grants the wife a "get," and Elias has refused. Within the Orthodox community, Zirkin would have been shunned had she remarried, as would any children she had. A few rabbis try to work around the system, but their attempts are not widely accepted. Zirkin, now 73, was believed to be the world's longest-standing "chained" wife, but in February, after 37 years, she became a free woman. Elias passed away, and the "get" is no longer necessary.

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Myesha Williams, 20, and a friend walked in to the police station in DeLand, Fla., in January and demanded to know why their photos appeared in local crime news on TV. Following questioning, police decided Williams was the woman on their surveillance video robbing a beauty shop and arrested her (but since Williams' friend had left before the robbery, she was not charged). (2) The burglar who stole already-filled prescription orders from the West Main Pharmacy in Medford, Ore., in January limited his take to the pickup-ready packages filed under "O." Police guessed that the burglar must have been after the commonly stolen "oxycodone" and was unaware that outgoing prescriptions are filed by customers' last names, not their medications.

Recurring Themes

(1) Last May, a 13-year-old boy in Galt, Calif., became the most recent inadvertent beneficiary of foolish behavior. Acting on a dare, the boy had chugged eight shots of tequila and lost consciousness. A routine CT scan at the hospital exposed an until-then-unrevealed brain tumor, and the boy is slowly recovering from his arduous but lifesaving surgery. (2) In January, James Shimsky, 50, became the most recent priest in the Catholic Diocese of Scranton, Pa., to be arrested for wayward behavior (with several recent instances reported in a January edition of News of the Weird). Shimsky was arrested on a Philadelphia street for allegedly buying cocaine.

A News of the Weird Classic (May 2005)

As many as 10 percent of Japanese youths may be living in "epic sulks" as hermits ("hikikomori"), according to a March 2005 Taipei Times dispatch from Tokyo, thus representing no improvement in the already alarming problem that was described in a News of the Weird report in 2000, which estimated that 1 million young professionals were then afflicted. Many of the hikikomori still live in their parents' homes and simply never leave their bedrooms except briefly to gather food. Among the speculation as to cause: school bullying, academic pressure, poor social skills, excessive video-gaming, inaccessible father figures, and an education system that suppresses youths' sense of adventure.